November 2, 2018

Islington Metalworks Wedding – One shot



Islington Metalworks wedding photography

I thought I’d try something new over on the blog, usually I use it to tell more detailed stories than I can with the one-image format of Instagram, but, if you’ll bear with me, this is a little bit more about what went into this image and how it was constructed and, some tips on using smoke bombs safely.

For me, this image has a couple of things I love – a couple who clearly adore each other, a slightly off kilter London location (their venue, the Islington Metalworks) and the smoke adds a little something extra. They had a whole stack of smoke bombs and we did a whole series of shots using them, some of which I’ve included below.

I can’t take credit for the decision to use these – I absolutely love the look but it was Sarah & Fitz who approached me when we were planning their engagement shoot about using them for the wedding and I had to send a slightly onerous email covering the health and safety aspects of using them in photos. Essentially they look cool, but they are treated as pyrotechnics – just like fireworks, and get really hot, so here’s my (hopefully helpful) guide should you wish you use them.


  • The best brand to buy is Enola Gaye. You can get them from paintball shops online like Airsoft World etc. Delivery can be expensive as they need to be sent by specialist courier, so if you want to try and few colours, it’s worth buying them all at the same time. Be careful to buy the smoke bombs and not Thunderflashes or other tricks, these cause small explosions and are not safe to be used in the same way.
  • No photographer will be able to get insurance for regular pyrotechnic use, so anyone that understands this will advise you that you use them at your own risk.
  • Although Fitz is holding the smoke bomb here, again you can choose to do this at your own risk. They are just as effective laid on the floor. If you do choose to hold one, hold the cool end and make sure it is pointing away.
  • Pull the trigger to start the bomb away from the body and not pointing at anyone, they start with a spark.
  • If it doesn’t start correctly I advise simply throwing it away on the ground until it is cool – buy more than you think you need.
  • They can be quite sulphurous and noxious – use in a well ventilated area and ideally away from buildings. After we’d taken these shots we found out that some of the smoke had gotten into the building and the atmosphere inside was perhaps a bit less fresh than we might have liked…
  • They can stain clothes, usually only if they are used super close, but you need to be aware of this, and again your photographer will not be able to accept any responsibility for stained wedding dresses.
  • Check with your venue whether they allow it – be it a city or country venue their insurance might not permit it, and if they are near farmland, livestock or in a built up urban area it might be considered a little anti-social.

Ok – sensible health & safety stuff out of the way… if you think you want to use them, my advice is always try them out beforehand, ideally on an engagement shoot with your photographer. That way you can get a sense of how long you have once it ignites, the way the smoke can move in the wind and how reactive to it you need to be to get the best plumes of smoke. You’ll also get a good idea of how you react, so you can almost ignore the smoke and do your thing together so that the shots aren’t simply you looking surprised! (I tried to make a video of myself letting off a confetti canon once for a competition entry and the look of surprise on my face was not the cool, editorial expression I wanted to achieve!)

I hope that helps, if you’re interested in using these for your wedding photos, or have any questions, then get in touch.




Islington Metalworks group shot

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